With the 2012 Farm Science Review near London, Ohio as a backdrop, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told reporters on Tuesday that while they still have hope that Congress will complete work on a Farm Bill, that hope is diminishing with word the House plans to leave early. That scenario has the USDA making plans to operate without a Farm Bill come September 30.
“We at USDA will continue to operate the programs that we have the authority to operate, but they are limited, we’ll continue to express concern for our livestock producers, our dairy producers and our specialty crop producers who do not have the benefit of crop insurance,” Vilsack said. “We are going to continue to work, as best we can to provide as much assistance as we can as a result of the drought, we’ve been very aggressive with the tools we have, but frankly our tools are limited absent a Food, Farm and Jobs bill getting passed.”
And when it comes to talk of a three or six month extension of the current bill, the Secretary’s not sure what that even means, when it comes to the MILC program, disaster programs or help for specialty crop growers.
“And what does a three month extension do but put you right smack dab in the middle of sequester, tax policy and deficit reduction discussions which feeds my concern and my suspicion that what this is really about is substantially reducing the commitment to rural America,” said the Ag Secretary.